Barry County's foster parent program always looking for more
Tim Click, the Barry County Health and Human Services director, oversees foster care and placement of children in the county.
Click said there are 21 licensed foster homes in the county and, typically, between 40 and 50 children in the foster care system in Barry County at any given time.
“We’re always trying to fit the needs of the child with the foster home,” Click said. “But we're always trying to place the kids in the county from which they came.”
“We could always use more foster parents,” he said. “We don’t have much difficulty placing kids, but we’re always looking for more foster homes.”
Among those children served by the foster care system are those who have been abused and neglected by their parents. The first consideration for these children, Click said, is to place them with relatives.
Statewide, 58 percent of all foster children are placed with relatives.
Family members are not always licensed, but, once they become licensed, sometimes they will foster other children as well.
If placing a child with a relative is not an option, the next goal would be to place the child in a home so they remain in the same school district and near support systems they may already have.
When they place a child, they always seek homes that have a family atmosphere that meets the child’s needs as well as the ability to physically and mentally meet the child’s needs.
A large percentage of children in Barry County are removed from their families because one or both parents have a substance abuse problem.
But the parent’s substance abuse must endanger the safety of the child before that child would be removed from their home. For example, if the parent is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and unable to properly supervise the child or if the parent’s addiction becomes a hindrance to proper care of the child then that may be a reason for removal, Click said.
As of October 2019, there were 13,108 children in foster care system statewide.
“In the vast majority of cases, adoption is not the goal,” MDHHS Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton said.
The purpose of the foster system is to reunify children with their parents once the environment is deemed safe, Wheaton said.
Foster parents aren’t expected to pay all the costs for the child they take in, depending on the child’s age and needs, according to Click. Foster children also can attend daycare. The cost of day care service will be reimbursed to the foster parents.
The contact is 855-MICHKIDS for those interested in foster parenting. Along the way, potential parents must attend an orientation, have a home evaluation, take the proper training courses, and meet with the local licensing professionals. Assuming they are approved, the foster parents would then be able to bring in a child.
The entire process usually takes 180 days, but Click said he’s seen it done in 90 days. “It really depends on how proactive the aspiring foster parents are regarding their application process.”
Some may enter the foster care program with the hope of becoming eventual adoptive parents of the child they bring into their home. However, Click explained that for the child to be adoptable their parents must first have their parental rights revoked, it’s not until then that the child is deemed adoptable.
Click added that those who want to help but are unable to become foster parents can always volunteer locally at recruitment events, they can take children to and from appointments, or donate parenting time to the local office for the foster kids.
Those interested can visit www.michigan.gov/hopeforahome for more information.